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Literature / Typewriter in the Sky

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Typewriter in the Sky is a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, written in 1940 and originally published as a two part serial in the pulp fantasy fiction magazine Unknown.

After pulp novel writer Horace Hackett bases the villain of his new swashbuckling novel on his friend Mike de Wolf, Mike finds himself sucked into the novel and forced to act out the role. He struggles to survive in a strange, arbitrary and badly-written new world.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Creator Cameo: In the sequence where Hackett goes to show his editor the manuscript in progress, he briefly meets one of his fellow writers, Rene Lafayette — that being one of the pseudonyms of Lafayette Ron Hubbard.
  • Designated Villain: In-Universe; Miguel de Lobo comes across as this due to Mike lacking enthusiasm for the role.
  • Executive Meddling: In-Universe. Partway through, Hackett's editor starts complaining that the villainous Miguel de Lobo is not villainous enough (not to mention being more well-rounded and charismatic than the novel's intended hero), and imposes a set of rewrites.
  • Fourth Wall Shut-In Story: A related problem where an author bases a character in his new novel on a friend, and the friend gets sucked into the novel and forced to play the role of the character.
  • Genre Deconstruction
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Miguel de Lobo with the captured heroine of the novel. Mike is not happy about it.
  • Meaningful Name: Hackett the hack writer.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: In stark contrast to the extremely flashy and attention-grabbing covers of the pulp era, the original publication had a very minimalistic design which the Publishers hoped would attract more serious readers. [1]
  • Rage Against the Author: Mike, rather a lot.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In-universe, Hackett struggles with Miguel de Lobo (the only rounded character in a world of cardboard cut-outs) stealing the spotlight from the novel's intended hero.
  • Swashbuckler
  • Trapped in TV Land: Mike, trapped in the novel.
  • Tuckerization: In-Universe, Hackett basing Miguel de Lobo on Mike de Wolf.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: Mike tries to enforce this trope on the pirates of Miguel de Lobo's band, but finds that they refuse to obey any orders on the subject. Hubbard gives a fair bit of attention to what would actually happen during a pirate attack, as well as how Mike's modern morality estranges him from his crewmen.